17 thoughts on “Charles Chaput: American Catholic Prelate Rejects Separation of Chruch and State – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Richard,

    I think you are exaggerating the ‘separation of church and state’ argument. The [Catholic] Church does not want to become a state-santionced religion in any country.

    I would like to suggest you consider the importance of free will in the Catholic doctrine. It is the foundation of almost everything. I grant that from your point of view, how could you know about it? You’re not a Catholic. 🙂 However, without free will to choose God [such as in a state-sanctioned religion], the beliefs are hollow and meaningless. Consider the underground Orthodox Christians in the former Soviet Union or the currently underground Chinese Christians. Despite the danger of belief, they choose God because their governments cannot remove free will.

    Archbishop Chaput’s column on 10/22 is written to Catholics, who mistakenly think that political correctness trumps Catholic apologetics.

    The tradition of apologetics is that Christians publicly defend their views of the divine origin and authority of Christianity. However, over the past 20 years of misguided political correctness, many Catholics remove themselves from public discourse out of fear of angering the those who do not share our beliefs. The Archbishop is speaking to these folks and telling them that it’s not acceptable.

    Here’s a quote from the Archbishop’s 10/22 column that you may have missed:

    Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That’s the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we “ought” to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody’s ought becomes a “must” for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it’s how pluralism works.

    The laws against stealing are an example. All countries have such laws. In most of them, they were justified first on religious or moral grounds, as in ‘thou shall not steal’.

    I wonder what our legal system would look like with out ‘imposing beliefs’?

    Finally, I must note that not all laws are just or moral [such as abortion].

    Jeff

  2. Since you have tried to state your views respectfully to me though you know we disagree, I will do the same…though our differences are huge.

    The Catholic Church is, if not a state-sanctioned religion, a dominant religion in many societies such as Latin America. Though Jews do live in Catholic dominant countries, I know they do so warily & on tip toes since these nations neither accommodate nor welcome such diversity. And Catholicism IS the only religion in Vatican City, which considers itself a state I believe. These may be small quibbles, but nontheless significant.

    Many religions observe the concept of free will & you make a mistake in believing as a Jew I would not understand the concept. This is a very important concept in Judaism. We Jews certainly know as well or perhaps better than Catholics what it means to choose our religion over life itself in the millions of cases in which Jews have chosen, throughout history, to honor their religious beliefs rather than those of whatever tyrant happened to be in power (& they often paid the price in blood).

    I think it’s preposterous to say there are Catholics who were afraid to propound their views within our society because they are in a minority or because they diverge from a politically correct mainstream viewpt. Jews are a far smaller minority than Catholics and we certainly have paid a price for expressing views that diverged from the majority in various societies in which we have found ourselves. If any religious group would want to be circumspect it should be ours. But American Jews are not intimidated in any way from participating in political discourse. So why in heaven’s name would a Catholic feel that way? TO me this argument sounds like a red herring or at the least bogus.

    Regarding the Chaput quotation you commend to my attention, you may not have fully read my post (admittedly it was quite long), but I certainly did read & in fact quote this passage in my post. This particular quotation from the column is deeply pernicious in my eyes (you should reread that section of my post) because it essentially says, “we will exert our political power & influence as aggressively as we can to overturn Roe v. Wade. The fact that other individuals or groups may feel strongly or violently opposed to us is of no concern to me & should not be of concern to Catholics.” I find this statement deeply offensive in a democratic society. The idea must not be to impose my will or the will of my group on an unwilling majority. That smacks of tyranny, not democracy.

    Furthermore, here’s another serious problem I have with Chaput’s abortion comments. He speaks as if Roe v. Wade directly “imposes” itself upon him in some way as if it forced him to do evil (like undergoing an abortion). In this statement, he makes a major error. Roe v. Wade certainly does NOT force Catholics to get abortions. It only enables those, including Catholics should they wish, who want an aboriton to get one. I know that even this is evil to Chaput & conservative Catholics. But believe me, from my own Jewish history I know what it is like to have a religion imposed upon you that is not your own: Antiochus forced Jews to eat pig in order to humiliate them after his victory in the Maccabbean period. 15th Spanish Catholics forced Jews to convert to Catholicism or die. Forcing someone to do something that violates their religious precepts is indeed horrible. But as I said, Catholics are only forced to allow others to undergo abortions & this is a major & critical distinction that Chaput conveniently ignores in his column.

    I disagree with your statement that Chaput’s column was intended for a Catholic audience. If it was, he should’ve published in a Catholic publication. Publishing in the NYT, causes you to reach huge numbers of non-Catholics. That’s why, I believe, Chaput tried to put as mild & benevolent spin upon his views as he could (largely unsuccessfully to my mind). If you are right & he DID intend only to reach Catholics, then he made an odd choice in where he published.

    Finally, I too have a moral code as you do. Much of my moral code probably derives from my religious upbringing as is probably true for you. But the difference between Catholicism & Judaism is that in general (& there are some unfortunate exceptions) Jews abhor imposing their moral beliefs on anyone including other Jews. Contrarily, Catholicism seems to have no compunction in forcing behavioral & theological conformity on Catholics &, in the case of abortion, on non-Catholics as well. I find this deeply unsettling.

    Certainly some laws are informed by morality. But not all moral values are shared equally in all religions. Should I, as a Jew who destests eating pork, organize Jews into lobbying Washington to outlaw the raising & eating of pork for all Americans? I am profoundly uncomfortable with the Catholic (& this includes fundamentalist born again Christians as well) attempt to impose a Catholic (or born again) moral perspective on our nation’s laws. I want laws that members of all U.S. religions & groups can observe as much as possible without a feeling of duress. So right now, you & Chaput feel that you are placed under duress in a nation in which Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. But in your dream system, I would be under duress because I want my wife, my daughter & those I love to have the right to an abortion should they want one. And my religion upholds a woman’s right to an abortion (though admittedly some Orthodox Jews believe, in the interpretation of Judaism, that the religion opposes abortion–you see ours is a varied, diverse & sometimes confusing system). Losing that right would be deeply pernicious & offensive to me.

    So as you go about trying to make the Catholic position the law of the land, pls. try to remember those of us who would feel deeply hurt & angry if you got your way.

    If you wish to reply, I welcome your doing so. If you can, I’d encourage you to leave your comment on my blog post itself so it may spark discussion in the blog.

  3. >>>>But American Jews are not intimidated in any way from participating in political discourse. So why in heaven’s name would a Catholic feel that way? TO me this argument sounds like a red herring or at the least bogus.<<<

  4. Kathy:

    I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of political discourse and the nature of the discussion of church-state issues in this country. You use loaded terms like “lecture” & “warning” to make it sound like someone is sternly admonishing you to shut up in the course of a political debate. This is most definitely NOT HAPPENING. However, I do indeed strongly feel that for the Catholic Church to spearhead an effort that would succeed in overturning Roe V. Wade WOULD INDEED mean the “imposition” of Catholic doctrine on U.S. body politic & that would be a deeply pernicious development. As I said in an earlier comment, my own religion contains many moral/theological precepts not observed in our society. For me & fellow Jews to successfully impose these views on you & the rest of my fellow countrymen (pardon the sexism of this word) would be absolutely wrong. I can observe my own precepts in my own home, my own synagogue & my own religious community. I don’t need to or want to force anyone outside that circle to observe them.

    Unlike you, I did not find that David Kirkpatrick misinterpreted Chaput’s remarks. He WAS sloppy in characterizing some of them. But he was not wrong in conveying the overall meaning of them. To say that the man doesn’t label voting for Kerry a sin is mere quibbling over individual words. What he does say is that if you know you’re committing a sin when you vote for him, then you must confess it. That’s mere parsing of words. It is crystal clear that Chaput thinks that such a vote is a sin. He merely leaves it up to the sinner to decide whether he was aware his act was a sin when he did it. Splitting hairs! I think such a position as Chaput takes regarding this is abominable & completely anathema to my own views of conscience (though admitedly I’m not a Catholic).

  5. Richard,

    It seems the entire point has been missed in your post. Archbishop Chaput is not trying to impose Catholic doctrine on all Americans. He is simply calling on all Catholics to reflect on what it means to be a Catholic. Much of this is happening because John Kerry has chosen to identify himself as a Catholic during this campaign.

    When an individual with the media presence of John Kerry presents himself as a practicing Catholic and yet does not share the same fundamental beliefs as the Catholic Church, what should we expect to happen? It’s as if John Kerry is telling the entire world it’s OK to pro-choice and still be a Catholic. The Archbishop and others within the Catholic Church are responding, “No, that is not what the Church teaches.” Does this mean Kerry should be excommunicated from the Catholic Church? I don’t believe so, but as Catholicism is a choice, perhaps he should examine other religions that more closely align with his fundamental beliefs.

  6. The terms “lecture” and “warning” came from the Archbishop’s quote in your original posting not from me. Don’t you think threatening to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Church could be considered an attempt to muzzle someone who has the right to speak? Because of that kind of reaction, I disagree with your assessment that no one is trying to shut us up.

    You’re chastising the Archbishop for not respecting the “separation of church and state” by keeping his Church’s doctrine to himself, but then how can you also say that this very principle isn’t being used to try to pressure church leaders to stay out of the national debate? Sounds to me exactly like what you’re doing. I think you’re trying to have it both ways, Richard.

    Do you feel the Catholic Church should be silent on all issues that touch on its doctrine? What if it happens to be a position you agree with? I’m taking a stab in the dark here, but what about opposition to the death penalty? How about forgiveness of Third World debt?

  7. Sterling:

    Your comment is disingenuous. Indeed, Chaput DOES wish to impose Catholic doctrine on all Americans (at least regarding abortion). Why else would he have explicitly said that there is nothing wrong with a group attempting to impose its will on an entire nation through the legislative process? What doctrine does he wish to see written into law regarding abortion, mine? A Muslim doctrine? A Buddhist? Of course, he wishes that the doctrine would be a Catholic one. To say anything different is willful blindness.

    John Kerry is identifying himself as a Catholic (and what is wrong with “publicly identifying yourself as a Catholic” during an electoral campaign? Your statement seems to deplore his doing so) because George Bush is attempting to bask in the divine love of his own Chrisitian faith. As Bush has trotted out his faith to win votes of born again Christians, Kerry has merely responded with an expression of his own faith. This may not be the brand of Catholicism that you subscribe to, but in my view he is just as good a Catholic as you or Chaput.

    John Kerry most emphatically did NOT say he is pro-choice and I am indignant when that distortion is added into the debate. Pls. be more careful when you characterize his positions. Personally, he is opposed to abortion (at least that’s my understanding of his personal position). But as president, he would not impose his personal religious beliefs on all Americans. I know you still adamantly reject this position. But you should at least get it right before you attack it.

    It’s such drivel to say that Kerry should examine other religions & simply go away. He is a Catholic, he will remain a Catholic. Not even some idiot right winger attempting to excommunciate him will drive him out of the religion he was born to & continues to embrace as his own. I’d recommend that you & those who feel as you do within your religion attempt to accommodate to the idea that there are good Catholics who hold different views than you about issues like abortion.

    You may wish to drive them away; or wish they would simply go away of their accord. But it aint’ gonna happen.

  8. Kathy:

    The issue of revoking tax exempt status for Catholic churches (and Protestant ones as well, btw) came up because several archbishops have told their parishoners that a vote for one candidate is a sin & should be confessed (we can quibble about whether Chaput fits in this category or not, but a number of other prelates have taken this aggressive position as well). Most Americans would make a small leap to assume that this position means (whether the bishop admits this or not) that a vote for the other candidate is, if not blessed, then a better moral choice than voting for the bad guy.

    That gets into the realm of blatant electioneering. I’m over fifty years old & I’ve never heard the types of blatantly partisan statements coming from both Catholic and Christian fundamentalist leaders. It chills me. I don’t want churches’ tax exempt status revoked. But I equally don’t want a priest telling his parishoners for whom to vote. I don’t even want him telling them that any particular candidate is immoral because of his position on abortion. That may work in the Catholic Church in Ireland or Italy. But it just won’t work here in America.

    Rabbis have strong feelings about various candidates, but I don’t know of a rabbi who would tell his congregants that George Bush was a sinful man (and you can be sure that a strong majority of these people would not favor Bush). Rabbis express their feelings on these issues in subtle and discreet terms. I wish Catholic & Protestant leaders would emulate them.

    And pls. don’t give me the tired argument: “Just because Chaput opposes Kerry, doesn’t mean he’s telling folks to vote for Bush.” After all, who would they vote for as an alternative if they felt Kerry was immoral–Ralph Nader? Come on. Conservative Catholics (including these archbishops) want George Bush to win. They may not say it explicitly, but they don’t need to. “For they shall be known by their enemies.” If John Kerry is Chaput’s ‘enemy,’ then we all know who his ‘friend’ is.

  9. Richard wrote:

    “I’d bet that when it comes down to it, he really doesn’t much care what non-Catholics think of the Church.”

    Influential people within the Vatican, the prelates, and the Curia (a group of cardinals you might think of as the Pope’s “cabinet”) don’t care what Catholics think of the Church either. In particular, they don’t care what American Catholics think — they make up only 6% of world Catholicism; and, in any case, the Church isn’t a democratic institution.

    As a Catholic there were always church doctrines that I did not believe in or even found morally objectionable, generally centered around the Church’s teaching on human sexuality — including its condemnation of gay and lesbian people and its opposition to contraciption Up until very recently — the last three or four years — nobody went out of their way to make me feel unwelcome because of this.

    What’s changed is that now local parishes where I live push very selective antigay and anti-contraceptive agendas.

    After my father died my husband and I had a second son. We named him Joseph after my father. My father had been very active in his local parish. Many people don’t realize that most of the people who help with funerals aren’t employees of the funeral home — they’re volunteers, usually retired men, who help these sad services go smoothly. My father was one of these. He also visited our local hospital on a weekly basis to let anybody who wanted to take communion but couldn’t get to church be able to.

    So nine days after little Joseph was born I took him to the church where my father served to have him get a blessing. I thought, the people at the church will be so happy.

    And instead, what happens is that the priest uses the text of the Marriage at Cana — where Jesus performs a miracle to help people celebrate a wedding — to preach a shocking and hateful diatribe against gay and lesbian people.

    I was so saddened and hurt. It even hurts writing about it now. I got up, picked up the baby, and walked out. Slowly, since I had had a C-section and slowly was as fast as I could go. And I haven’t been back since.

    Cardinals like Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and the prelate you mention, don’t care if people are driven away from the church. Cardinal Ratzinger has stated that he wants a smaller church with only people who believe all the doctrines. If you don’t believe, leave. As another commenter said, “It’s a choice.”

    I really don’t feel that being a Catholic is a choice. I feel drawn to my church, and I think it is God that put that inside my spirit. But when I go, I get hatred. “Believe or leave.” Did anybody even notice the new baby, God’s new miracle? No. They were too busy making sure everybody knew that when Jesus turned water into wine that he was really making a statement against gay people.

  10. I feel so sad to hear of Lisa’s experience in church. I can imagine the pain she felt. I’m glad she has not abandoned her faith because of the obtuseness of a single priest.

    Of course Lisa is so right about her comment about one’s religion NOT being a choice (except for a convert). For many of us, our religion is so much a part of us that we could no more abandon it than we could abandon our hair color or genetic makeup. Those who see religion as a “choice” are looking at it as merely an intellectual or theological enterprise. But it is so much more than that.

    In a way, the Catholic community is so large that it can afford to splinter & schism as some prelates would seem to welcome. My own Jewish religion is so small that we have to cherish every member. That’s why there are religious & atheist Jews, right & left wing Jews. To me, they’re all Jews (though admittedly some Orthodox Jews take a much more restrictive approach to this issue).

  11. First, to all posters on this thread: excellent posts and cogent discussion all around!

    Richard, you wrote:

    I’d recommend that you & those who feel as you do within your religion attempt to accommodate to the idea that there are good Catholics who hold different views than you about issues like abortion.

    [Side note: Archbishop Chaput is the pastor at my parish and I have personally listened to many of his homilies – so unlike most people, I have had the good fortune met him after mass. I’m more sympathetic to his teachings because to me, he is truly a compassionate defender of our faith. Without sounding trite, he is one of the best teachers of doctrine I have heard personally. You can listen to his homilies at Archden.org.]

    So, let me address your suggestion that Catholics should accept brothers and sisters like Senator Kerry who publicly reject Church doctrine.

    There is a fundamental movement by the Catholic Bishops, such as Charles Chaput, who are teaching more fervently that Catholics must live their faith. The Archbishop wrote about this problem in a previous Catholic newspaper column. I recommend people read this column before continuing with my post to provide greater background on the current crisis.

    The summary is that Catholic politicians like Senator Kerry attempt to lead a dual life – the ‘private’ one in which they believe they are faithful and the ‘public’ one in which they publicly denounce the doctrine of their [freely-chosen] Church. This leads a credibility problem for both the politician himself and the Catholic Church. Essentially, by proclaiming that Senator Kerry supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, he goes directly against the teachings of our Church. As Catholics who have any theological knowledge about the teachings of the Church, this is a grave sin because it breaks the First Commandment.

    The credibility problem for the Church leaders is that they have to spend time explaining to us at mass why Senator Kerry’s position goes against Church doctrine. Catholics can be notoriously ignorant about doctrine for two reasons: 1) those born into Catholicism are exposed to doctrine before they are adults [generally before 18th birthday]. Like history, it’s more fully understood in context of knowledge and experiences not fully realized at this young age. In contrast, adult Catholic converts approach doctrine differently, given greater experience and world-views. 2) doctrine is complex at times and it requires dedication in thought and study to understand the layers of the onion, so to speak.

    The fundamental issue is that Catholics, particularly American Catholics try to pick and choose their beliefs. You may have heard the term ‘Cafeteria Catholic’ – the image is a Catholic moving along a line of Church doctrine, accepting convenient ones and rejecting more difficult ones. The Church, and in particular bishops like Charles Chaput, are trying to get through to our cafeteria brothers and sisters. They do a disservice to their Church and its faith by selectively adhering to certain Church teachings such as abortion, contraception, or adultery (defined as sex outside of marriage).

    Just today, Senator Kerry again looses credibility, by selection of beliefs: ““I love my church; I respect the bishops; but I respectfully disagree.“. This is classic American Cafeteria Catholicsm. Not only does it show that Senator Kerry does not understand what the Church teaches, but his hubris to disobey is sad to Catholics like me. Sadder still are the number of other Catholics who agree with him.

    The bottom line is that if you are a Catholic, it is a sin to disagree with the Church’s teachings. People may not like this statement, but it is the fact. Bear in mind that I’m not a priest or Catholic theologian, but the short explanation of why it is a sin to disagree with the Church is that the Church [and it’s teachings] are the manifestation of God’s Will. Therefore, by disobeying them, you disobey God. [This is a huge topic in itself – maybe I can tackle it on isuma.org.]

    Jeff

    Click on this link to read all of the paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church with regard to ‘abortion’. Note that Senator Kerry’s continued pro-abortion stance rejects #2272.

    Also for those non-Catholics who are wondering about the Catechism. It’s quite a long story, but the Catechism is a guidebook for the laity (all other Catholics like me who not priests or nuns). In a simpler format, it lists all of the doctrine of the Church in simple, crossed-referenced paragraphs, using modern language. People who are Catholics can look up things like ‘abortion’ or ‘murder’ and read the doctrine. Ultimately the source for everything in the Catechism is from the Bible (this is the long part of the story…).

    2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.

    2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.

    2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.

    2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

    2275 “One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.”

  12. I was baptized a Catholic as an infant but volunteered as part of an RCIA program as an adult. One thing converts need to be wary of is losing their sense of humility and thinking that they are better than people who were born Catholic, that their Catholicism is somehow privileged because they chose it, and look down on native-born Catholics as ignorant or insufficiently doctrinally pure.

  13. Jeff: First, thanks for contributing to a relatively civil discussion of this issue.

    But I must take you to task for again misstating John Kerry’s position on abortion. You wrote:

    “Catholic politicians like Senator Kerry attempt to lead a dual life – the ‘private’ one in which they believe they are faithful and the ‘public’ one in which they publicly denounce the doctrine of their [freely-chosen] Church.”

    He is NOT pro-choice, nor does he ‘publicly denounce’ the Church’s position. Now, I understand that moral absolutist Catholics like Chaput will say that this makes no difference & that by refusing to support the outlawing of abortion that Kerry in effect rejects Church doctrine. But you must acknowledge when you write about this issue what Kerry believes his position to be before you attack, or in this case, distort it. In the last debate, Kerry said that personally he does not support abortion. To say he does is just plain wrong & pls. stop doing this.

    Second, I’m sure you will admit that on certain issues the Church’s positions evolve over time. I’m not sufficiently aware of Church doctrine to quote chapter & verse, but I’m virtually certain that this is the case. What if over time say, the Church’s position on stem cell research changes? Don’t you make any allowance for the fact that in driving away Catholics who agree with Kerry, that the position espoused by these Catholic “rebels” (in your eyes) might someday become the doctrine of the Church? This potentiality is precisely why I’m dead opposed to any doctrines, be they political or religious, which propound absolute certainty & ‘criminalize’ dissent. What is now taken for Orthodoxy may become a relic of the past some day.

    You & Chaput may dislike “cafeteria Catholicism” but the plain fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Catholics reject doctrines they find oppressive or wrong. You may try to stamp out this practice, but that doesn’t mean you will succeed. In fact, I’m certain you will fail. In some areas, Church doctrine is hopelessly out of touch with [lay] Catholic practice & belief. The vast majority of Catholics oppose the policy on contraception. How are you gonna get that genie back into the bottle? You can’t. This is too personal an issue for Catholic women of child-bearing age. No old, white priest who’s never lived with or known intimately a woman (other than a mother or sister) can tell such a woman she should not use contraception. You can try but it won’t work.

    Finally, your comment about John Kerry’s “disobedience” being a rebellion against the Church amazes me. I simply do not understand the Church’s insistence on moral/theological conformity. It goes against human nature to demand that Catholics either stop thinking for themselves or that they only channel their thinking into pre-approved theological channels.

    Jeff, I don’t mind your multiple links here to sites explaining or defending your views. And I don’t mind at all you explaining your position here. But I’m afraid that I do have a problem with multiple citations to specific Church law or doctrine. I didn’t create my site to quote chapter & verse from Catholic doctrine. So I reserve the right to edit out some of the more arcane citations toward the end of your comment.

  14. Lisa – I apologize that I gave you the impression that I think Catholics who choose their faith ‘are better’ than those born in to the faith. I do not support this view. However, it is a fact [which the Church leaders discuss constantly] that many Catholics, both converts and those ‘born into it’ are ignorant about Church doctrine.

    Richard – Can you reconcile that John Kerry does not publicly denounces Church doctrine when here are his words on the matter?

    “I know there are some bishops who have suggested that as a public official I must cast votes or take public positions on issues like a woman’s right to choose or stem cell research that carry out the tenets of the Roman Catholic church,” Kerry said, adding, “I love my church. I respect the bishops. But I respectfully disagree.

    He respectfully disagrees with the bishops regarding a woman’s right to choose and embryonic stem cell research. Thus, he is publicly denouncing the Church. Yes, I understand that he keeps saying that he ‘personally opposes abortion’. But he also says, ‘but I disagree with my Church on a woman’s right to choose’. To me, he is stating conflicting positions and I do not think I misrepresent them – they are his words, not mine.

    The issue for me is that you cannot be true to your beliefs if you only ‘personally oppose something’, rather than act on that belief. History teaches that this is a recipe for disaster. For example, two of the most horrific genocides in the last 60 years lingered because of such inaction – Rwanda in 1992 (800,000 murdered ethnic Tutsis) and Jews in WWII (6 million murdered). In both cases, the international community capitulated about stopping the genocide – they were personally opposed to it, but did not act quickly enough. This is why I think it’s important to choose a leader who will back up his beliefs with action.

    Finally, you wrote that:

    “It goes against human nature to demand that Catholics either stop thinking for themselves or that they only channel their thinking into pre-approved theological channels.”

    This is not what the Church teaches. She teaches that humans should exercise their free will to reject sin and accept God’s will. No one in the Church wants the laity to stop thinking. Ask 100 priests or bishops and I think all of them would agree. I present this link that “explain[s] what the Catholic church teaches and the basis for this in Scripture”.

  15. No, Jeff, I still think you’re getting it wrong in your characterization of Kerry’s position. He’s not objecting to the Church’s position on abortion (in fact I think he personally & privately supports it). His respectful disagreement with the bishops consists of his refusal to accept their contention that every Catholic elected official must work to make Catholic doctrine the law of the land; and if they don’t they are ‘bad’ Catholics and not worthy of receiving votes from “good” Catholics.

    All politicians are guilty to some extent of harboring a public/private persona by which they hold one set of private or personal beliefs and a different set of public beliefs. I know that I would probaby make a bad politician because I’ve worked my entire life (not always successfully) to ensure that I could bridge the gap between these two spheres. But I think it is dead wrong to ask a politician to behave as if he’s a church leader representing absolute moral positions. Politics is about compromise and not about absolute positions. If John Kerry were to become Archbishop Chaput in a business suit, he’d lose the very next election he faced.

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